10 Weeks till Kona

10 Weeks till Kona

As of last Saturday, July 30th, the Ironman World Championships are exactly 10 weeks away (you have no idea how great a wave of anxiety, excitement, and sheer terror just coursed through my body as I wrote that)! With that in mind, I’m going to make it a personal goal to post every week leading up to October 8th. If nothing else, it’s going to be my personal chronicle of the lead up. This is going to be such a major part of my story, and I want to make sure I have a great record of how I’m feeling, how training is going, what emotions are present each week, etc. For this week’s segment, I’m going to include a race report from the Route 66 Half Iron last weekend.

Within hours of the exact moment, 10 weeks in the future, when the gun will be going off in Kona, I was on the start line of my first half-iron distance race of the year. Route 66 in Springfield, IL worked well in my schedule, wasn’t very far from Madison, and had potential to mimic some of the conditions that will be present in Hawaii. Discussing the race plan with Alyssa on the drive down, the goal was to practice racing other guys and not just run through my own plan. Especially out of the water, I had a plan for the bike and run, but Alyssa instructed me not to be scared to go outside of that in order to go with guys that may pass me or to catch up to those in front of me.

20160730_SpringfieldHalfIM-73For non-wetsuit conditions, 86 degree water temp, I had a really good swim. Coming out in just over 30 minutes for 1.2 miles is a great time for me. I was in the third wave, so it was hard to judge how far back I was heading into transition. It was time to just put my head down, focus on staying on top of nutrition and hydration, and start reeling people in. Since there were most of two waves in front of me, that provided plenty of carrots in the first 20 miles of the bike to catch up to. I went back and forth with another guy for 4-5 miles until my power decided to stop working. When this happened, I was riding just behind him, but legally so, and had to assess how the pace was. Leading up to that point, when he was in front, my power was lower than where I wanted it to be. Knowing this, the next time I passed him I kept a decently strong pace and dropped him. Now just riding by feel, I had no idea how things were going to shake out. 20160730_SpringfieldHalfIM-118At the far turn around, I started counting guys and realized I had biked up to third. This is where I stayed until I reached T2. I had missed the final aid station, which was 13 miles out for transition, so when my quads decided to completely lock up in the last mile of the bike, I knew it was going to be an interesting run; I was already behind on hydration.

Even with trying to shake off the cramps, I managed to move quickly through transition and head out on the chase. Running out, I heard my dad yell, “Green socks!!!” Come to find out, the guy in 2nd was wearing bright green compression socks, and I was maybe one minute behind him. 20160730_SpringfieldHalfIM-127I settled into a pace that was slightly slower than I ultimately wanted, but considering the cramps and need for hydration, I thought I was in a decent place to start. By mile 2, I caught up to 2nd place and made the pass in way that made me confident this was permanent…famous last thought. Shortly afterwards, the wheels came flying off. Between cramps, general fatigue, and dehydration, I was quickly realizing that it was going to be a long 10 miles. I managed to run most of the time but ended up finishing 20+ minutes slower than desired and fell to 7th overall. I always tell people that crossing the finish line is goal #1. Realizing that goal on this day was an accomplishment.

So how am I feeling 10 weeks out from Kona? Not as great as I was hoping to. Recovery from Route 66 has taken longer than I would like, and I continue to be extremely fatigued all the time. Alyssa and I are still figuring out what all contributed to the dehydration and cramping, but I’m very thankful that we’re figuring this out now and not 10 weeks from now. I have one more half-iron in a few weeks to practice, and I’m confident there will be a different, stronger outcome to that race. 20160730_SpringfieldHalfIM-155